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  Her Transcription

Analysis of "Her" from Stan Getz's Focus
by Bruce Eskovitz

    The "Focus" Suite was written and arranged by Eddie Sauter who gained his early reputation as an outstanding composer and arranger for the Benny Goodman Orchestra. The Suite is comprised of seven movements for strings and tenor saxophone where jazz styles are intermixed with a strong leaning towards Bartok and Debussy. This album was recorded in 1961. Stan's parts were overdubs, thus laying his parts in after the string parts had been recorded. Stan was provided only with chord changes and orchestral cues for his actual parts. The result, in my opinion, is the crowning jewel of Stan Getz's career as a jazz artist.  
    Getz, the supreme melodist, holds this piece together with recurrent themes and motives which appear and reappear through subtle variations and modulations. In bars 13-15 he states a melody around "G", the major third of Eb chord, then continues to accentuate the "G" as the chord become an E7#9 as the "G" now becomes the raised nine and the resolves that tone upwards to the "A", the third of the F chord. All the time creating a melody based on the third of the chord, he then finishes the phrase by using the auxiliary tones surrounding the fifth of the F chord. There is a similar use of a common tone melody occurring in bars 2527. He has selected F, E, D, G, and F# to create this melody, and interchanges the F and F# to create tension and release as the chords change and different tones become consonant or dissonant. He is also doing the same thing in the opening statement in bars 7 and 8 as he interchanges the C# and C. This technique adds to the overall symmetry of this piece and further clarifies Getz as a master improviser.  
    One major aspect of Getz's playing in general and this piece in particular is how "EFFORTLESS" he sounds and how "DIFFICULT" it is to sound like him. This is best illustrated by the tremolos in bars 32-34. They require false fingerings that are extremely difficult to make sound good. Also, there are several virtuostic runs (bars 34-36, 40-42, and 52-55) that seem to float effortlessly over the textures in the orchestra. These too are really "finger busters". There is always an "illusion" of simplicity, which helps to create the Getz sound.
  Another element that occurs in several places in this piece is how he uses both the harmonic minor scale and the blues scale to achieve an emotional or "bluesy" feel. This can be seen in bars 57-59 where he uses an F harmonic minor scale over the F minor chord, and in bar 61 where he uses an Eb harmonic scale over the Eb minor chord. Both of these lines have a yearning or pleading feeling often associated with the blues. This sound reoccurs in bars 74-75 and again in bar 79. So even though this is not a blues piece Getz adds that texture through his use of the harmonic minor scale.
  It is hard to escape the sheer virtuosity in this performance. Getz uses nearly the entire range of the instrument from low B in bar 105 to the high F# in bar 113, dazzling runs, special effects, eloquent long phrases, double tonguing and after all of that, nobody plays a whole note quite like Getz as seen in bars 109 and 110.
  This is an example of the greatness of Stan Getz. This piece is a freely flowing melodic adventure tied together with recurring motives and simple melodies that are always taken to their logical conclusion. There are interspersed blues and harmonic minor scales which lend authenticity to the jazz genre and Getz's jazz and ethnic heritage. As you will discover this piece is much more difficult to play than it sounds, which is a further testament to Getz's artistry and musicianship. Focus is truly one of the great jazz monuments, and we are all privileged to be able to share this musical and jazz milestone.


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